The Toronto Blue Jays will be out to end a three-game losing streak when they play the visiting Los Angeles Angels Friday night at Dunedin, Fla.
The Blue Jays had their home opener spoiled Thursday night when the Angels took a 7-5 victory in 11 innings in the opener of a four-game series.
Toronto is 3-4 despite opening the season by winning two of three road games against the New York Yankees.
The Angels, who have won five of their first seven games, will start left-hander Andrew Heaney (0-1, 21.00 ERA) on Friday. The Blue Jays’ starter had to be named but it likely will be right-hander T.J. Zeuch (0-0, 0.00 ERA).
Heaney allowed seven runs in three-plus innings April 2 in a loss to the Chicago White Sox. In three career starts against the Blue Jays, he is 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA.
Zeuch allowed three hits and no runs Sunday in a four-inning start against the Yankees. He struck out one and walked one. Zeuch has never faced the Angels.
Los Angeles’ Kurt Suzuki started at catcher on Thursday and had a sacrifice bunt in the 11th inning after striking out in each of his first four plate appearances. Heaney likely will have Max Stassi behind the plate on Friday.
Stassi had a breakout season on offense in 2020 and is batting .364/.462/.636 with a homer in five games this season. He hit .278/.352/.533 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in 31 games last season.
“I feel great,” Stassi said Thursday. “I’m just trying to continue where I left off last year. I haven’t really changed a whole lot. It’s more about refining my approach and continuing to work on mastering the zone. Just trying to dominate pitches over the middle and just get better at that.”
Angels manager Joe Maddon added, “I like his swing a lot. I had known him not to be a good offensive player, and then what I saw last year didn’t indicate that, at all.”
There have been positive developments for the Blue Jays. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. continues to hit. He was 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs on Thursday, and he is batting .348/.483/.652 with two home runs and five RBIs.
“Compared to last year, I feel a lot better,” Guerrero said recently through translator Hector Lebron. “It’s all about timing. I think my timing is perfect right now. I’m seeing the ball very well, and I just feel comfortable at the plate.”
The Blue Jays do not expect to have George Springer available for the series. He started the season on the injured list with a left oblique strain, and now he has a right quadriceps issue. He underwent an MRI exam Tuesday, and manager Charlie Montoyo said Thursday that Springer has a “low-grade quad strain.”
The game on Thursday was the first regular-season major league game played in Dunedin, the spring training home of the Blue Jays. Restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic have prevented the Blue Jays from playing their home games in Toronto for the second successive season. They played their home games in Buffalo last season.
Toronto is the first team to hold a home opener in three different cities in three consecutive seasons.
–Field Level Media